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Pinal County residents are coping with the COVID-19 crisis, and mostly in good humor. Some are working normally, albeit more carefully, while others are at home, either with or without pay.

People are trying to stay connected as many events and meeting places are canceled or off limits. These include religious institutions for many. That is especially difficult for Christians during Lent, a time of repentance and rededication of faith for many. Because of the crisis, however, some are thinking more of their faith within their own belief system.

The Catholic Diocese of Tucson has disseminated some suggestions from a psychologist staff member, Gustavo Perez, Ph.D., a member of the diocesan Review Board. They will be thought of as helpful by many, including those of other faiths, for this time of the coronavirus or any other. His ideas are:

1. Nurture your spiritual life. We have an abundance of biblical images that show people coming to a deeper awareness of God’s never-ending love during challenging times. Schedule a time of daily prayer, even if only five minutes.

2. Stay healthy. God calls us to take care of our physical bodies. There are three basic practices proven to improve our physical health, reduce stress and improve our mental abilities. They also result in more optimism, hope and compassion toward others. They are:

RESTFUL SLEEP: Sleeping less than seven to eight hours per day leads to reduced energy. Moreover, you must refrain from television or internet for an hour before going to bed. Too, if possible, turn off your phone 30 minutes before going to bed. Sleep is critical.

EAT SMART: In stressful times we tend to overeat the wrong foods or to indulge. Plan what you eat and pace your eating. If possible, increase fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.

MOVE AROUND: Do not remain idle for long periods of time. Daily physical activity will improve your mood and cognition, as well as your sense of hope. Anything counts! A 5-minute stretch, a short walk outside if possible (taking in a healthy amount of sunshine) or even a walk around the house will make a difference.

3. Stay connected with others. Behavioral science has proven that reaching out to others is crucial for our well-being in times of adversity.

4. Help others. Volunteering your time to help others is a proven way to reduce anxiety and improve health. It also restores our sense of being connected to others. While you might not be able to volunteer in the ordinary ways, try to be creative, consider contacting an elderly neighbor who may not be safe shopping at present.

5. Try something new. If you’re not ordinarily a reader, read a book; tell your children or grandchildren happy stories of your childhood; draw your family tree; write a letter to someone who has impacted your life.

6. Turn off the television and the phone. The average adult in the U.S. spends five hours daily on their cellphone. In a time of crisis, that number increases! Every unnecessary hour on the phone is time away from connecting with God, nature, those nearest to you or yourself. And be smart about media and how you absorb news. Schedule a reasonable amount of time receiving media on television or internet and then turn off the television or computer. If in doubt, go back and try 1 through 5 above.

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